WAGM-TV is the CBS/Fox/CW+-affiliated television station for Northern Maine, United States and Western New Brunswick, Canada. Licensed to Presque Isle, Maine, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 8 from a transmitter on the northern section of Mars Hill Mountain among the wind turbines. The station can also be seen on Spectrum channel 4 and Rogers Cable channel 9. Owned by Gray Television, WAGM has studios on Brewer Road (SR 210) in Presque Isle.

History[edit | edit source]

Early years[edit | edit source]

WAGM-TV signed on October 13, 1956 on VHF channel 8. It was a CBS affiliate owned by Harold Glidden and the Aroostook Broadcasting Corporation along with WAGM radio (then at 1450 AM; later at 950 AM). The transmitter was behind the station's Brewer Road studios, providing a coverage area limited to the immediate area including Presque Isle and Caribou. In 1957, Glidden sold Aroostook Broadcasting to Community Broadcasting System, a company controlled by former Governor Horace Hildreth, who also owned WABI-AM-TV in Bangor.

Soon afterward, the station changed its primary affiliation to NBC, matching WABI-TV; however, WAGM-TV maintained secondary affiliations with CBS and ABC. It returned to being a primary CBS affiliate, again following WABI's lead, in 1959. However, in practice, as an affiliate of all the big three networks, WAGM cherry-picked the most popular programs for its prime time lineup.

Community Broadcasting Service merged with Journal Publications in 1971 to form Diversified Communications. WAGM radio was sold in 1981 and renamed WKZX; it went silent in the late-1980s. The radio station's building still exists today but appears abandoned, while the three transmitter towers nearby were dismantled sometime in the early-1990s. In 1984, Diversified Communications sold WAGM-TV to NEP Communications, then-owner of WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania. NEP sold WNEP to The New York Times Company a year later, but retained WAGM under the licensee name NEPSK, Inc. At one point co-owned by Tom Shelburne, Peter Kozloski, and Norman Johnston, Kozloski assumed full ownership of the station in 1991, retaining the NEPSK name.

Changes[edit | edit source]

Around the same time as the sale to NEP, WAGM began phasing out its secondary affiliations with ABC and NBC. Given increasing availability of cable and satellite television in rural Aroostook County, the necessity to carry programming from multiple networks decreased. Many stations over the Canadian border in New Brunswick also serve Aroostook County. By 1990, WAGM carried the entire CBS prime time lineup, with other network programs airing nightly between 7 and 8. The station dropped ABC completely in 1998, while the last NBC show seen on the station, Days of Our Lives, disappeared from the schedule in September 2005. The end of the ABC and NBC affiliations left KXGN-TV in Glendive, Montana as the last television station in the United States affiliated with more than one big three network on a single feed (that station, formerly a dual CBS/NBC affiliate, moved NBC to a digital subchannel in September 2009). Today, WLBZ and WVII-TV from Bangor serve as the de facto NBC and ABC affiliates respectively on Spectrum.

When Fox gained broadcasting rights to games from the NFL's National Football Conference in 1994, WAGM aired them since Fox didn't have an affiliate in Presque Isle; this made it the only station in the United States to air programs from all four major networks at the same time. The arrangement ended when CBS obtained the American Football Conference contract in 1998; as a result, Fox programming was provided to the Presque Isle area via Foxnet, and it remained that way until September 2006. WAGM also aired some UPN programming during late nights and weekends from 1995 until 2006 when that network closed and merged with The WB to form The CW.

The station moved its transmitter site in 1999 to the summit of Big Rock ski resort on Mars Hill Mountain's southwestern face. The move placed the antenna at a much higher point greatly improving reception of the signal. This location is where its first digital signal on UHF channel 16 signed on from in July 2003. For the U.S. digital transition on June 12, 2009, WAGM applied for a 10 kilowatt digital signal and moved its transmitter to the northern section of Mars Hill Mountain. At midnight on June 12, it signed-off the analog channel 8 and digital channel 16 signals for the final time. The next day, the station signed-on a new more powerful digital signal on channel 8.

WAGM is seen across Western New Brunswick in Canada and can be picked up over-the-air a few miles outside of Fredericton city limits in communities such as Keswick Ridge. On cable, it is seen throughout Northwestern New Brunswick towns such as Woodstock, Grand Falls, and Edmundston. The station was available to a greater extent in Canada such as in Fredericton until the advent of satellite-delivered American broadcast stations on Cancom in the early-1990s.

Sale to Gray Television[edit | edit source]

In April 2015, WAGM was sold to Gray Television for $10.25 million. The transaction closed on July 1, 2015 following FCC approval. WAGM is Gray's first television station in the Northeastern United States.

In February 2017, Gray announced that it would purchase Bangor's WABI-TV from Diversified Communications with the transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2017 pending FCC approval. The purchase would reunite WAGM with its former co-owned station, and in the press release from Gray announcing the purchase it was stated that the two stations would share newsgathering and other resources.

Subchannels[edit | edit source]

WAGM-DT2[edit | edit source]

WAGM-DT2 is the Fox-affiliated second digital subchannel of WAGM-TV, broadcasting in high definition on virtual and VHF digital channel 8.2. On cable, the subchannel is available on Spectrum channel 12.

On September 12, 2006, WAGM launched a Fox affiliate on its primary digital channel preceding the shutdown of Foxnet. Prior to then, outside of the station's secondary Fox affiliation during the mid-1990s, Foxnet provided the state's only access to Fox on cable outside of the Portland and Bangor areas; the subchannel's launch coincided with the shutdown of Foxnet (which served as the Fox affiliate for the entire state of Maine between late 2001 and April 2003). The change resulted in the main CBS signal moving to a new second subchannel. Such a placement is generally uncommon as most broadcasters number a digital signal equivalent to the analog signal as minor channel 1 and number other subchannels with higher minor channel numbers. This is a similar situation as NBC affiliate WGBC in Meridian, Mississippi which moved its original NBC affiliation to a new second digital subchannel so its main channel could join Fox and the Retro Television Network (RTV).

Until Time Warner Cable switched to WAGM's relocated CBS feed, it offered Fox in high definition for a short time on digital channel 508. On November 15, 2007, WAGM created a new separate website for its Fox channel featuring the "My Fox" format and layout from Fox Interactive Media. However, the web address "myfoxaroostook.com" was eventually abandoned.

By fall 2017, the over-the-air feed of "WAGM Fox 8" had begun airing in Fox's recommended 720p HD resolution; the Fox subchannel had only been carried in high definition on cable prior to then. In addition to its over-the-air resolution upgrade, WAGM Fox 8 had also been moved to the station's second digital subchannel while CBS programming was returned to its original position on WAGM's main channel.

WAGM-DT3[edit | edit source]

WAGM-DT3 (branded as The County's CW 8.3, in reference to the large Aroostook County containing most of WAGM's coverage area) is the CW-affiliated third digital subchannel of WAGM-TV, broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen standard definition on virtual and VHF digital channel 8.3. The subchannel carries the default schedule of The CW Plus service meant for smaller markets. The subchannel was launched on September 10, 2018, and is carried locally on Spectrum channel 13 in SD, and in high-definition on channel 1212. Presently, the HD feed is exclusive to cable due to WAGM's current multiplexer limitations.

Previously, the CW affiliation in the market was available through a cable-only channel operated by Spectrum and the forerunner providers in the market, which carried the station on cable channel 13 since 1998, when it launched as a WB affiliate with the WB 100+ service (then branded as "Presque Isle's WB") under the false callsign "WBPQ" (which stood for The WB PresQue Isle) for the purposes of identification in electronic program guides and Nielsen ratings tabulation. Throughout its twenty years as a cable channel, it only ran in standard definition. It seamlessly became associated with the new CW network (branded as "Presque Isle CW", though it used a "CW 13" logo) on September 18, 2006 after the merger of The WB and UPN into that one network. Following this CW affiliate's September 10, 2018 debut over the new WAGM-DT3 subchannel, it updated its branding to "The County's CW 8.3" to reflect its new over-the-air presence.

TV stations in New England
WFSB, Hartford/New Haven

WGME, Portland; WABI, Bangor; WAGM, Presque Isle
WBZ, Boston; WSHM-LD, Springfield
WPRI, Providence
WCAX, Burlington

TV stations in New England
WTIC, Hartford/New Haven

WPFO, Waterville; WFVX-LD, Bangor; WAGM-DT2, Presque Isle
WFXT, Boston; WGGB-DT2, Springfield
WNAC, Providence
WFFF, Burlington/St. Johnsbury/Rutland/Windsor

TV stations in New England
WCCT, Waterbury

WPXT, Portland; WABI-DT2, Bangor; WAGM-DT3, Presque Isle
WLVI, Boston; WWLP-DT2/WFXQ-CD2, Springfield
WNAC-DT2, Providence
WNNE, Montpelier

TV stations in Aroostook County and western New Brunswick, including Presque Isle, Edmundston and Woodstock
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